Asia's Wealthiest Woman Lose Half Her Fortune In China's Property Crisis

Asia's Wealthiest Woman Lose Half Her Fortune In China's Property Crisis

Updated on July 29, 2022 11:53 AM by Ava Sara

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Yang Huiyan, 41, Asia's richest woman, has seen her wealth fall to $11 billion from nearly $24 billion this year as China's property crunch escalates. Yang Huiyan controls Country Garden Holdings, China's largest real estate developer by sales. 

Yang's stake was transferred mainly from her father, Yang Guoqiang, who founded the company in Foshan, Guangdong province, in 1992. Country Garden's stock hit more than half its value this year as the country's real estate sector has struggled with falling home prices, weakening buyer demand, and a debt default crisis that has engulfed some of its largest developers since last year.

Despite losing more than half her fortune, Yang remains the wealthiest woman in Asia, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The plunge in her net worth has narrowed the wealth gap between her and fellow female billionaires in China, making Yang only some $100 million away from being surpassed by Fan Hongwei in wealth.

Fan chairs Hengli Petrochemical, a chemical fiber producer. After months of liquidity issues, China's most indebted property firm, Evergrande, defaulted on its US dollar bonds in December. Since then, many other major developers, including Kaisa and Shimao Group, have also sought protection from creditors.

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Recently, the real estate crisis has escalated, as thousands of disgruntled homebuyers who had made down payments for unfinished homes threatened to stop paying mortgages if construction was not completed in time. Country Garden is also facing growing liquidity stress.

On Wednesday, the developer announced it would sell stocks at a nearly 13% discount to raise HK$2.83 billion ($361 million), compared to Tuesday's closing price. Some of the proceeds will repay the company's offshore debt. Analysts at Capital Economics said in a report on Wednesday, "The mortgage boycotts are a double threat to developers and to the housing market."

They have drawn attention to the cash-strapped developers' inability to complete properties they have already sold, which is "putting off new homebuyers." They added that the boycotts have also made banks more cautious about issuing mortgages, which could further dent property sales.

Earlier this week, S&P Global Ratings estimated China's property sales could drop by a third this year because of mortgage strikes. People believe developers won't be able to complete presold units in time, the most common way they sell homes in the country. Capital Economics analysts said, "Without sales, many more developers will collapse, which is both a financial and an economic threat."

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